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Chris Christie says Mitt Romney should release tax returns

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (L) introduces Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at a campaign rally in West Des Moines, Iowa December 30, 2011, ahead of the Iowa Caucus on January 3, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

Brian Snyder/REUTERS

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, left, introduced Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a campaign rally in West Des Moines on December 30, 2011.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has endorsed and campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, today called on Romney to release his tax returns.

In an interview on NBC’s “Today Show,” Christie was asked about the recent criticism of Romney for Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns. In the last several days, Romney has finally committed to releasing a year’s worth of tax returns in April.

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“What I would say to Governor Romney is, if you have tax returns to put out, you should put them out,” Christie said. “Put them out sooner rather than later. Because it’s always better, in my view, to have complete disclosure, especially when you’re the frontrunner.”

Christie said he releases his tax returns every year after he files them. But Christie noted that Romney has already started to speak about his tax returns, telling reporters yesterday that he pays close to a 15 percent tax rate.

The issue of Romney’s tax returns has been magnified in recent days, as he campaigns in South Carolina, which holds the country’s next primary on Saturday and which is among the nation’s poorest states. Among his competitors, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he will release his tax returns this week. Texas Governor Rick Perry already released his. A spokesman for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum said he would release his returns, but offered no timeline. The campaign of Texas Representative Ron Paul did not respond to questions yesterday about whether Paul will release his.

Presidential nominees in the past few elections have generally released their returns around April. It has become tradition for presidents to release their tax returns, though there is no law obligating them to do so.

In the same interview, Christie refused to rule out serving as vice president under Romney, though he said he wants to continue being governor of New Jersey. “I think it’s rude and wrong to say you wouldn’t do something you haven’t been asked to do,” Christie said.

Shira Schoenberg can be reached at sschoenberg@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shiraschoenberg.
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